First gig of the year happened to be a series of firsts, chalking off a new venue, The Pheonix Artist Club in Soho and a couple of acts that I haven't seen perform live before, namely, The Amazing Devil, ably supported by Robert Hallow & The Holymen, the latter sharing a lot of personnel with the former in an eight person lineup.
The Amazing Devil are a band I came across in middle of last year with the release of their debut album, "Love Run" and immediately offered them a slot on The Fatea Showcase Sessions. (If you are reading this before Feb 1st you can still get a track as part of the current download.) They are an act that deliver songs with a real emotional pull, and apparently a generosity of spirit, with tonight's performance raising funds for the Refugee Community Kitchen. It looks like they were doing a grand job as tables had to be removed during the interval to create more space.
Both The Amazing Devil and openers Robert Hallow And The Holymen adopt an element of music as theatre within their set, something alluded to in their recorded works and whilst not entirely to the fore, throughout the set, it's definitely a strong part of the show. The same being true of atmosphere generated, by the drapery, fairy lights and original artworks on the stage.
This approach requires a cautious approach as sometimes it can cross that line into art for arts sake, but both bands, maybe because of their size pulled it off as there was always something to pull you back to the music.
Ironically, the closest we got to distraction was caused by the musical kit, a microphone needing to be physically held by a person leaning across a piano whilst Rob Hallow was playing it, followed by a broken guitar string.
Without a doubt, though, the stars of the night were the Amazing Devil in their expanded format. Not only did it give the songs an additional strength in depth, it really emphasised the emotion ladden songs delivered more quietly and succinctly by the duo. Overall a night that really entertained and one which set a high bar for 2017.
Words & Picture: Neil King
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